ORGANIZERS CALL FOR FRESH RECRUITS
Long-term recovery from the April 27 tornado is far in the future, and new volunteers are desperately needed, according to those close to the relief effort.
Rennie Tarpley, director of His Place His Way Ministries, said he has worked 19 tornadoes inside and outside Arkansas, and he is seeing a scenario play out that happens with every major one he has been involved with.
“All our people are worn out. I’ve had very little sleep over the past six weeks. Our numbers of volunteers have dropped off significantly. Surveys show that’s what happens around week six.
“Long-term recovery has not even started yet. This is our Joplin. Eighteen months from now, we’re still going to be rebuilding and helping people. We need to mobilize volunteers that maybe haven’t helped yet.”
Pam McBroome, manager of the Nucor building, which is being used as a staging area for tornado relief and donations, has had the opportunity to network with most of the organizations involved in the cleanup effort.
“When Team Rubicon left, they turned over all the work orders to the Arkansas Dream Center,” she said. “There’s still a lot of areas where people need help. You cannot clean it up in six weeks. We’re not even close to being done.”
Drew Davis, executive director of the Arkansas Dream Center, said, “We’ve got roughly five or six homes that still have to be demolished, about 13 sites that need chainsaw teams, and an equal number that need tractor teams to move material from way back on the lot to the front so it can be picked up. At least 15 to 16 sites just need debris picked up.”
To clarify just how much work that is, he said, “If you sent me 1,000 bodies a day for the next month, I probably wouldn’t get it done. There’s a lot of work. That’s just the ones that have been reported. Some people never bothered to report. They’re just trying to do it on their own.”
Davis said of 700 people affected by the storm, he estimates less than one-third have secured permanent housing, leaving 400 to 500 “in limbo.” He said the most-needed donations are furniture and small appliances, which can be taken to the Nucor building at 1800 Sturgis Road.
A tornado survivor who asked only to be identified as Stacey said she is fortunate to have a roof over her head.
“I’ve been through bunch of tornados, but never anything to this degree. It was horrible. I lost everything, but I didn’t feel as bad off as other people. I was one of the blessed ones that I do have a place to stay. Others are still in need.”
Faulkner County Judge Allen Dodson said the county will begin its final sweep for tornado debris on June 30.
“We are approaching 100 percent levels on pickup of debris that has made it to the right of way that will be picked up by machinery. I hope people don’t take that to mean, ‘Oh, they’re nearly done. I don’t need to volunteer.’
“In areas where there is no big debris left, there are still little bits that people could use help with … Little bits of paper, insulation and wood that’s in their yard. It may be someone who can’t help themselves. There’s going to be a need for volunteers for weeks to come and months, probably.”
To volunteer, go to ardreamcenter.tv/tornadovolunteer/
(Staff writer Rachel Parker Dickerson can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 505-1236. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)